22 March, 2023
Short review
In the bookshop Cărturești Lipscani in Bucharest (source: Marian Mirea: https://www.pexels.com/photo/books-on-brown-wooden-shelf-9455601/)

 Angela Dimcheva, PEN-BG

This article was given to the Bridge of Friendship blog by Ognian Stamboliev.  

“GALILEO’S DEFENCE” – novel and essays by Octavian Paler

OCTAVIAN PALER (1926 – 2007), novelist, journalist and philosopher. Born in Lisa, Brasov county, he studied at the famous “Spiru Haret” high school in Bucharest, then graduated in philosophy and law at the University of Bucharest. He has worked in various literary editorial offices in the Romanian capital, as well as director of the National Radio and National Television. In 1983, he openly opposed the regime of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and devoted himself entirely to literary activity. 

He is the author of the novels “Life at the Railway Station” (translated into Bulgarian), “A Happy Man” and several books of journalism and essays, including “Don Quixote in the Orient”, “Galilei’s Defence”, “Polemics of the Heart”, “Subjective Mythologies”, “Solitary Adventures”, “Question Time”, etc. Winner of the Romanian Academy Prize and the Romanian Writers’ Union Prize. His books have been translated into several European languages. 

The novel “Galilei’s Defence”, one of Octavian Paler’s most important and most translated works, is one of those books that best define his profile, his polemical character. A wise text that offers us an exemplary discourse on the dilemmas of an age close in spirit to our own. “Defending Galileo” speaks to us of the difficulty of making the right choice under conditions of political struggle and repression, between openly telling the Truth, at the risk of its ultimate destruction, and officially renouncing it, in order to reaffirm it forcefully, but in a roundabout and less dangerous way, to make certain compromises with one’s own conscience, but ultimately to uphold it. To declare it before the world!

“A DRINK WITH MARX”, selected poems by Mircea Dinescu

In the work of the contemporary Romanian poet and dissident Mircea Dinescu (b. 1950) classical traditions combine in a surprisingly organic way with bold innovation, following the traditions of Romanian and world poetry, and refracted in a special, unique way. Dinescu’s poems sound strange, paradoxical, and can be said to be an original and multifaceted blend of lyric and philosophy, fiction and reality, with a sincere and deeply human view of the world.


I have a hole in the floor…

is neither capitalist,

nor communist.

It’s a non-party hole!

It’s so transparent, 

that it could enter 

into the Academy.

She’s so virtuous,

I could marry her.

If only I didn’t think

that eventually

she’ll cheat on me with a mouse!


Collection “The Grammar of the Labyrinth. Poets of the Romanian avant-garde”, translated by Ognian Stamboliev. The book is a joint publication of the almanac “Holy Forest” (Sveta Gora) and the publishing house “Faber”. In the preface, Ognian Stamboliev underlines the mutual influence between the European avant-garde and Romanian art. Suffice it to mention the Dadaists Tristan Tzara and Marcel Iancu, the surrealist Victor Brauner or the absurdist playwright Eugen Ionesco. But still unknown and underestimated is the Romanian literary avant-garde, especially surrealism.

Recently, a number of Western authors and magazines have shown interest in it. A number of anthologies and monographs have been published, as well as separate thematic issues of magazines in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and France. More recently, the Leipzig-based Philipp Reclam publishing house has published a selection (compiled by Eva Behring) of the most representative poetry, prose and manifestos in the field. 

An excellent bilingual edition was produced in Milan by the famous Italian novelist Prof. Marco Cugno of Turin, from which I have selected my translations of the poetic fragments.”

Next, Ognian Stamboliev discusses the manifestos of the Romanian avant-garde.

In the collection we read works by Ion Barbu, Ion Vinea, Tristan Tzara, Sașa Pană, Ilarie Voronca, Eugen Ionesco, Gherasim Luca, Gellu Naum, Urmuz. Among them was the Bulgarian Gheorghi Dinev (George Dinu), also known under the pseudonym Stefan Roll (1903 – 1974). He translated Geo Milev’s poem “September” into Romanian. The Romanian avant-garde is related to the French avant-garde, and critics place it immediately after it, before the Italian avant-garde.

Photo: Ognian Stamboliev (source: Eslitsa Popova)

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